WHAT IS AFFORDABLE HOUSING?
The federal definition of affordable housing is housing that costs no more than 30% of a family’s income. In areas with high rents, like Marin County, low income families must spend much more than 30% of their income toward rent leaving them rent burdened and unable to provide other essentials for their families like clothing, school supplies, or healthy food. In Marin County, many low wage workers simply live in less expensive areas outside the County and commute, creating negative environmental impacts. According to recent data, 54% of those who work in Marin and make $40,000 annually or less commute from outside the county.
The affordable housing BRIDGE and other organizations produce in the Bay Area is typically financed using the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program, federal HOME or CDBG funding, local financing programs established to support affordable housing, like Marin County’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund, philanthropic support, and by conventional debt sources from a commercial bank. The property tax exemption is also another indirect funding source, which lowers operating costs, and thus allows rents to be set at lower rates. The financing programs set up to support the production of affordable housing all work to underwrite project costs, which are the same development costs that would be incurred by a for-profit development– land, design fees, permit fees, and construction costs. But by underwriting or offsetting some of those costs with funds that do no require repayment, the amount of rental income necessary to complete the project is reduced, meaning lower, affordable, rents can be charged.
These funding sources require that the development serve households at or below a specific income level, typically a specific percent of the area median income. Low Income is generally an income level that is equal to 60% of the area median income or lower. For Marin, this would be a family whose household income does not exceed $63,300 (60% AMI for a family of 4). To qualify to live in an affordable development applicants must provide 3rd party documentation that they are income eligible (don’t make more than the maximum income). In addition, there are other screening criteria BRIDGE uses to determine eligibility, including screening for prior evictions, poor credit history, and criminal background. We also conduct house visits prior to offering a unit for rent.
Marin Rents and Incomes:
Area Median Income (family of 4): $105,500 50% of AMI: $52,750 60% of AMI: $63,300 Fair Market Rents (HUD's data base of market rents): 1bdrm: $1,522 2bdrm: $1,905 3bdrm: $2,543 Affordable rents (50%-60% AMI): 1bdrm: $986-$1194 2bdrm: $1177-$1427 3bdrm: $1352-$1641
Of the 72 proposed affordable rental units at Marinwood Village, 25 are 1bdrms, 30 are 2bdrms and 17 are 3bdrms.
HOW DO PEOPLE QUALIFY FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING?
Once a development is nearing completion, BRIDGE’s property management company, BRIDGE Property Management Company (BPMC), will begin marketing and leasing unit. We will engage in a number of steps to affirmatively market the units, including advertising in print media, posting to websites like Craigslist, and posting on other web-based resources for affordable housing. We will also gather names and contact information during the construction period by setting up a call in number for people to request applications once marketing begins.
In order to qualify, applicants are required to submit a completed application that would include verification of the family’s income. BRIDGE is required to get third party verification of an applicant’s income to ensure that they meet the income requirements; i.e., that they’re not over income. Once that has been verified, then there is a back ground check for evidence of evictions or criminal behavior, either of which are immediate grounds for denial. We also perform a credit check to ensure that the household’s debt is within a reasonable range. We also gather landlord references and, then, finally, we do a house visit to see the condition of their current home. If after this process, the household has demonstrated that they meet all of our standards, they are offered a unit. They must sign a lease and a set of house rules and must comply with both. A violation of either is grounds for eviction. If you are interested in seeing how the process works, please visit our website. We are currently leasing Foothill Farms in Sacramento. Please note, in particular, the grounds for denial.
WHO LIVES IN AFFORDABLE HOUSING?
BRIDGE’s developments typically serve a families with a range of different income levels, with some units targeted at the 60% income level and some at 50% and lower. Examples of some of the jobs residents of one of our Marin properties hold are counselor, office administrator, librarian, cosmetologist , musician, in home care provider, grocery clerk, radiology technician, nurse, nanny, sales clerk, pet store manager, teacher. Almost 55% of BRIDGE residents work in the service industry, performing jobs that are both difficult to fill and crucial to California’s growth. Local businesses often struggle to attract workers, especially in the service and support industries. Local communities—and our state’s infrastructure—depend now and in the future on the kinds of employees that live in affordable housing. These are people you know and interact with on a daily basis– they may even be family members.
BRIDGE’S MARIN COUNTY DEVELOPMENT EXPERIENCE:
BRIDGE has a long history of developing new affordable housing properties as well as rehabing old buildings in Marin County. Below is an overview of these projects. As you scroll down you will see pictures, financing information, and general information for each property.
ALTO STATION- Mill Valley
Address: 290 Camino Alto Ct #309 Mill Valley, CA 94941
Date Completed : January 1, 1993
Affordable Units/ Total Units: 17/17
BRIDGE was invited by the City of Mill Valley to develop Alto Station, which is modeled after BRIDGE’s award-winning Pickleweed Apartments. BRIDGE secured funding for Alto Station through a state loan and from the City of Mill Valley and the Marin Community Foundation. Marin County also committed funding from the federal HOME program. Winner of a Gold Nugget Award, the development features wood frame construction and wood-shingle siding with a children’s play area and extensive landscaping.
BELVEDERE PLACE and CASA VISTA – San Rafael
Address:162 Belvedere Place: Belvedere Street San Rafael, CA 94901; Casa Vista: 55 Fairfax STreet #27 San Rafael, CA 94901
Date Completed: October 1, 2003
Affordable Units / Total Units: 66 / 66
Belvedere Place and its neighbor Casa Vista form the Canal Area Housing Improvement Program in San Rafael. Belvedere Place has 26 apartments, Casa Vista, with 40 apartments, includes a newly constructed community room and a swimming pool. Both properties were existing developments, acquired and completely remodeled in 2003. Each development received new paint, carpeting and linoleum, appliances, kitchen cabinetry, windows, landscaping and on-site laundry facilities. Schools, a grocery store, and other shops are within walking distance, and Golden Gate Transit stops a short distance away. BRIDGE Property Management Company’s ongoing management ensures this new high-quality environment is maintained.
DORETHA MITCHELL- Marin City
Address: 52 Terrace Drive Marin City, CA 94965
Date Completed: April 1,1997
Affordable Units / Total Units: 30/30
Doretha Mitchell is a 30-unit, 100% affordable, rental property that was developed and built as part of a larger, mixed-income property in Marin City. Completed in 1997, the property is close to bus routes and a major shopping center. Doretha residents enjoy the use of the recreational amenities and the community room of the larger development. Apartment features include washer/dryer hook ups, all -electric kitchens, dishwashers and patios/balconies.
PICKLEWEED APARTMENTS- Mill Valley
Address: 651 Miller Avenue Mill Valley, CA 94941
Date Completed: July 1, 1986
Affordable Units / Total Units: 32/32
Overlooking the protected wetlands of Richardson Bay, Pickleweed Apartments features 32 affordable apartment homes on a two-acre, city-owned site. BRIDGE Housing worked closely with the City of Mill Valley to complete this community, which opened in 1986. The combination of city land, tax-exempt financing, funds from The Buck Trust (which established The Marin Community Foundation), and construction savings yielded dramatically below-market rents. Pickleweed is winner of a Gold Nugget “Best in the West” Award and the Urban Land Institute Award for Excellence.
Rotary Valley Senior Housing- Lucas Valley
Address: 10 Jeannette Prandi Way,San Rafael CA 94903
Date Completed: July 1, 1997
Affordable Units / Total Units: 80/80
BRIDGE worked with the Terra Linda Rotary Club and the Marin County Redevelopment Agency to build this 80-apartment development for low-income seniors. BRIDGE leases the site from the County of Marin, and a HUD special-purpose grant enabled the County to clear the site for development. Winner of a 1998 Gold Nugget Award for “Best in the West” from the Pacific Coast Builders Conference and an award from the National Council on Senior Aging, the development is located in Lucas Valley and consists of one-story bungalow apartments with porches.